Children with Eczema Could Be at Higher Risk for Peanut Allergies

Hold the peanut butter. Does your child have eczema? Are they allergic to cow’s milk, or eggs? If so, you could be looking at a recipe brewing for a peanut allergy…

According to new research from King’s College London, children with eczema could be at higher risk of developing peanut allergies later on in life. After studying 359 infants aged 3 to 15 months, the researchers found that amount of peanut protein in household dust that the children were exposed to actually doubled their risk! And if they were allergic to cow’s milk or eggs or had moderate to severe eczema and had the same allergies as well, they were much more likely to develop a peanut allergy.

Study senior author Gideon Lack, added, “This is further evidence for the dual-allergen-exposure theory, which suggests food allergies develop through exposure to allergens via the skin, likely through a disrupted skin barrier, whilst consumption of these food proteins early in life builds up tolerance in the body.”

What does this mean? It’s not just eating certain foods that could trigger the peanut allergy for your child – it’s the peanut in household dust that a child with eczema is exposed to through the damaged skin barrier that you need to factor in as well.

So if you thought that holding off on peanut snacks during pregnancy and breast-feeding meant that your child wouldn’t develop food allergies later on in life, it looks like it’s just a little more complicated than that now. Along with oral exposure to certain foods when your child is young, the timing and balance of their skin also determines whether they’ll be allergic to it or develop a tolerance. If this triggers some concern for you, be sure to discuss this with your doctor, especially if your child has eczema!

Source: “Atopic dermatitis increases the effect of exposure to peanut antigen in dust on peanut sensitization and likely peanut allergy.” Brough, Helen A. et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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